Posted by: crustynomad | May 14, 2010

Blog being revived for the World Cup

This blog doesn’t get used much these days as it is full of random comments on a wide variety of subjects and I have another blog for my thoughts on marketing and communications. I have decided, however, to use this place for my comments on football and the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

Check back later today when the first of my posts go live!

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Posted by: crustynomad | April 23, 2010

Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Deluxe Edition)

Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Deluxe Edition) cover

Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Deluxe Edition)

I’ll begin this review by not reviewing it. Disc one, the main album, has been remastered but I’ve not listened to it in full yet so I don’t know how that stacks up. However, as I’m deaf in one ear I’m probably not the best person to talk about it. For this reason I’m focussing on the bonus disc and the delights within…

There is no question it’s excellent compilation of rare and unreleased material but it is not without its flaws. I was particularly looking forward to the demos of Two Tribes, War and Welcome to the Pleasuredome as well as the long mix of Ballad of 32 but more of which about those in a moment.

The second disc to this set begins with the fabled Relax (Greatest Bits) from the cassette single…sorry, singlette. This really is a perfect summing up of the Relax experience and it’s just a shame we don’t (yet) have a release that includes all those fantastic cassette mini-albums in a digital form. After the work Ian Peel has done with the ZTT’s archive that may change but for now I’m happy take this.

Read More…

One of my tasks in recent weeks has been the co-ordination and design of the latest edition of the London Internet Exchange’s membership magazine, HotLINX. When the first edition was published in the year 2000, it was intended to be an occasional, LINX member only newsletter. Over time it has developed to become a regular quarterly publication read by stakeholders right across the Internet industry.

Articles have covered technical and regulatory news, LINX member stories, event reviews, meeting sponsor advertorials, opinion pieces and helpful ‘How to…’ guides. Recipients include LINX members, vendors, colocation providers, news agencies as well as government officials and policy makers concerned with Internet regulation.

Traditionally HotLINX contained eight pages with a print run of just a few hundred copies. Following the success of the relaunch issue in August 2008, it quickly expanded to 12 and then a 16 page format with an increased circulation of 1250 printed copies distributed to some 50 countries worldwide. Then, in November 2009, LINX commemorated its 15th anniversary with a special edition of the magazine and made all archive issues available for download, some for the very first time.

The latest issue, HotLINX21, went online at 9.45am on Thursday 18 February and, as I type, has had over 450 downloads. This has helped all downloads break the 12000 barrier since August 2007. While these are not huge figures they have been seen in the context of the target audience and the rate of growth over the past year.

Read More…

Posted by: crustynomad | February 25, 2010

Don’t just read the news, plunder it!

There has never been a time in history in which news is more readily available. Forgetting traditional newspapers and magazines for moment we have television, radio, Internet and simple word of mouth but this barely scratches the surface as to what is available.

In the online world there are dedicated news websites, specialist industry forums, comment through blogs and the growing impact of social networking which makes certain news stories almost inescapable. It can be overwhelming if we take this information at face value but how we digest the detail could yield a host of different business opportunities.

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Posted by: crustynomad | February 25, 2010

Some basic Tips for those new to Twitter

More and more people are using Twitter in a business context these days to help promote products and services. No longer is it just being considered as a banal method of telling friends and family what you had for dinner but a genuine bona fide business communication tool.

Personally I have three Twitter accounts. One is for my employer for general announcements and information with a second individual work account for more general industry chat. The third one is my own which is mostly used for simple personal updates. It will be through this account I shall explain a few of the techniques you can use if you are new to Twitter.

I felt I should make ‘the new to Twitter’ clear as this is not meant to be for the regular users who have figured out how to use the thing. This is for those who may have set up an account and seen absolutely no benefit thus far. There are several reasons why this may be the case and I will come to those shortly.

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Posted by: crustynomad | February 25, 2010

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

A few weeks ago I started reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell.

This particular book looks at how certain circumstances in formative years play a lot bigger role in individual success than we might otherwise give credit for. It also says that it isn’t just natural talent that’s the key – it takes hard work and dedication and even mentions a figure of 10,000 hours ‘practice’ in 10 years to master a particular skill.

Mozart has already been given a hard time because his early works as a six year old weren’t exactly compositions but arrangements of other people’s material. What is widely regarded as his first outstanding piece wasn’t written until he was in his early 20s. A little harsh on a child prodigy but I get his point.

These types of examples make the book kinda amusing too as it challenges the unchallegable. Stuff you used to just accept as fact is clearly a load of nonsense according to old Malcy. Anyway, from what I’ve seen so far it is a very good read. Thought-provoking and inspirational and I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

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Posted by: crustynomad | December 21, 2009

TV Comedy and the Digital World

This post is a comment on British situation comedy, broadcasting and how we as individuals have changed over the last generation. This was inspired by a blog post on BBC Writersroom by Michael Jacob, a leading comedy bod at the Beeb. In it he refers to a new sitcom called Big Top and says:

As is traditional with virtually every new BBC1 sitcom, Big Top has received a massive critical kicking, both in newspapers and on writers’ forums. I can never quite understand the snobbishness of aspiring comedy writers, who tend to unite in loathing any show which is popular with audiences. Two Pints and My Family spring immediately to mind.

Personally I cannot comment on this particular show as I haven’t seen it but I found what he said and the way he said it particulalrly interesting. I understand what Michael Jacob is getting at and I agree with him to a point but I think there is far more to this story than there is at first glance.

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Posted by: crustynomad | December 10, 2009

Building the Employer Brand

Yesterday I attended a one day workshop entitled Building the Employer Brand run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

I found the content very interesting particularly in light of the recent recruitment work I’ve been involved in. It was thought-provoking and gave rise to a number of questions and methods for building stronger internal colleague relationships while also making a business more attractive to customers and potential job applicants.

The programme looked at the following:

  • What is branding?

This was an introduction to the concept of the customer and employer brand.

  • Why is the employer brand important?

This considered the components of the employer brand, and how this relates to the customer brand. We were also asked to look at how our own employer brand was currently perceived, and whether it needs to change or develop.

  • Developing the employer brand strategy

In this session we considered a number of the different aspects of employer branding e.g. organisational values and behaviours, reputation of the organisation, perception of the value of work, challenge & interest as well as individual staff achievement.

  • Communicating the employer brand

To finish the day we covered the aspects of our employer brands which need to change and what information is needed to find these out. This enabled us to build a list of key points outlining the changes needed.

We were given a book called Brand from the Inside by Libby Sartain and Mark Schumann to take away which, from what I’ve read, looks to be an excellent guide and I look forward to reading more. I may even do on an ongoing review so I can cover the topic in more detail.

There are three dates currently in place for this course next year in April, August and December. These can be found along with the course overview on the CIM website.

Posted by: crustynomad | December 2, 2009

Blind date legislation – a sketch

THERE IS TABLE SET FOR A CANDLELIGHT DINNER WITH A SLOVENLY GUY (PAUL) SAT SLOUCHED IN ONE OF THE CHAIRS. ELEGANTLY DRESSED SHEILA APPROACHES WHISPERING AGGITATEDLY INTO A MOBILE PHONE. AS SHE REACHES THE TABLE SHE HANGS UP AND SMILES WEAKLY. SHE SITS AND TAKES A SIP FROM A GLASS OF WINE.

PAUL:
You took your time. Didn’t realise powdering your nose could take so long. Just how much have you snorted?

SHEILA NEARLY CHOKES.

SHEILA:
Not enough, clearly.

WE HEAR A RAISED VOICE IN THE BACKGROUND BUT CAN”T HEAR WHAT IS BEING SAID.

RACHEL:
(OUT OF BREATH) Sheila, I got here as fast as I could.

SHEILA:
Thank god! Paul? This is Rachel Tomms from Trading Standards. She’d like a word about the content of your Lonely Hearts advert.

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Posted by: crustynomad | December 2, 2009

Checklist for writing newsletters

Questions to consider when writing a newsletter are:

Why am I writing a newsletter?

  • what do you want to achieve by having such a publication?
  • what are the long-term goals?
  • how often will it be published?
  • how will you judge its success or failure?
  • What format will it be? Will it be print only, email or PDF download?

Who is my readership?

  • what type of person will be reading the newsletter?
  • what is the appropriate style and tone of the publication?
  • what impression do you want to make?
  • do you want feedback and will this be managed?
  • who else is writing for your market and how?

What should it look like?

  • what the most suitable format if it is being printed? (paper stock, colours, layout etc)
  • how many pages will it have?
  • what type of imagery should be used?
  • will anyone else be contributing content?

What is the schedule for production?

  • when do your readers need to receive your newsletter?
  • has adequate time been built in to cover production and printing?
  • who are you relying on to produce content or deliver copies?
  • have you allowed time for thorough proof reading and sign-off procedures?

I hope these brief checklists were useful to you. I shall return to this topic in due course to give a more detailed overview of the subject.

Posted by: crustynomad | October 24, 2009

Alan Ball: ‘Playing Extra Time’ book review

Alan Ball - Playing Extra Time

Alan Ball - Playing Extra Time

I got this book as part of a football book box set last Christmas and hadn’t quite got round to reading it but once I started, I couldn’t out it down. The ’66 World Cup happened before I was born but as an England fan I always had great affection for the little man that ‘ran himself daft’ that day.

This book got right into the detail of both the playing and managerial side of the game and the injustice of how heartless football clubs can operate. Obviously we only have Ball’s side of the story but such is the cynicism in the game I’m not entirely surprised to read about how it was, and is, being run.

I think what got me was the total lack of respect for someone, one of only 11 who have won football’s greatest prize, was treated at times. I was shaken to read that a 10 year old boy had spat him while he was manager at Stoke and how he was made to carry the can for the farce that was Manchester City in the late 90s.

On the family side there is the moving tributes to his wife, Lesley, who died of cancer and for his family and friends. I think what particularly hit home for me personally was that her death followed a not dissimilar pattern of my mother’s some five years later.

Alan Ball died two years after this book was written but reading it he seemed so alive that he must still be around somewhere. I remembering him playing for Southampton and always noted his managerial progress because of the England connection so when he died of a heart attack in 2007 I felt I’d lost a relative too. By a quirk of fate his funeral was two years to the day before my mother died.

I may have made this review a bit more personal to me but if you are a football fan then this is a must read. In a way, despite the problems he encounted along the way, he saw the golden age of football from the sixties until it began to eat itself with the money men of the Premier League.

Posted by: crustynomad | October 16, 2009

Frankie say…Marketing!

The 1980s pop group, Frankie goes to Hollywood, are back in the public eye with a remix of their classic track, Relax, and a new Best of collection called Frankie Say Greatest.

The marketing for this has been interesting. It has come on the back of the Virgin TV advert and commemorates the 25th anniversary of the bands debut album, Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Singer Holly Johnson’s solo albums are now all available to download online for the first time with physical CD reissues planned for next year I understand.

A few weeks ago there was a teaser campaign with Frankie Say Coming posters across London and last month the Frankie Say T-Shirt was the focus of 25 years of British fashion design. Not only that, CD promos of 11 remixes of Relax have been circulating and unsurprisingly these tracks can now be found on the net. This was always likely but is it all a ploy by generate interest? If that was the case it has certainly worked.

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Posted by: crustynomad | October 5, 2009

Mark Wallington: Author, Screenwriter and Jobbing Gardener

Does the name Mark Wallington mean anything to you? No, I’m not talking about the former Leicester and Lincoln City goalkeeper but the author and TV screenwriter of the same name.

He’s probably best known for his book 500 mile walkies but there were a few others that made it to TV too including the Missing Postman with James Bolam and Happy Birthday Mr Shakespeare starring Neil Morrissey. The latter, coincidentally, that saw a relationship start between Morrissey and co-star Amanda Holden which reportedly lead to the break-up her marriage to Les Dennis.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve recently been re-reading his book called The Day Job about his life a jobbing gardner in 1980. What will perhaps be interesting to people on here is that his ‘other’ job was as an aspiring comedy writer. It talks about meeting director John Lloyd and Dave Allen and finally getting two sketches on Not the Nine O’clock News. The news comes the day John Lennon was shot.

If you want to read a funny book and get a flavour of someone’s struggle to be recognised in the comedy world I would heartily recommend it. You can even read some of the book online.

Also of interest is that his writing partner at the time was Dick Fiddy, a TV historian who wrote Missing Presumed Wiped: Searching for the Lost Treasures of British Televison.

Posted by: crustynomad | October 3, 2009

Norwich or Peterborough to bid for 2028 Olympics!

Update (05/10/2009): It seems it was a joke as the wikipedia page has been updated to remove the reference listed below.

This has to be a joke surely!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2028_Summer_Olympics

With plans already in place to build a 100’000 capacity sports stadium in Eastern England, championed and proposed under the Labour administration of Gordon Brown, either of these two Cities [Peterborough or Norwich] will be expected to bid as part of that process. However, with the 2012 games having been held in London only sixteen years earlier, the bid is expected to fall short. However, officials backing the bid have already cited the close gap between the games being held in the USA in 1984 and 1996-a gap of only twelve years. Norwich is the favourite at the present time, with additional facilities including a revamped Carrow Road, home of the football club, as well as those at the UEA. Water based events will be held at Pensthorpe, near Fakenham.

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Posted by: crustynomad | September 11, 2009

Capello v McLaren – ‘Who’s better?’

Just noticed that Fabio Capello has now managed for as many games as Steve McLaren. Here’s how their records compare:

McLAREN – ALL

P18 W9 D4 L5 F32 A12 – 1.78 goals a game

McLAREN – COMPETITIVE

P12 W7 D2 L3 F24 A7 – 2 goals a game

—————————————————-

CAPELLO – ALL

P18 W14 D2 L2 F50 A15 – 2.78 goals a game

CAPELLO – COMPETITIVE

P8 W8 D0 D0 F31 A5 – 3.88 goals a game

I can hear McLaren now spouting on how England had more competitive fixtures and a superior overall defensive record under his reign but I see little else in his favour apart from having the most convincing foreign accent of the two.

Posted by: crustynomad | July 30, 2009

Twitter can breathe life into older content

Yesterday afternoon I made four Twitter posts which listed all the external organisations featured in each of the last four issues of the LINX magazine, HotLINX. Each one included a link to the respective PDF they featured in. The result of this communication went well thanks largely to users interested in Extreme Networks.

Extreme featured in HotLINX17 which was published back in February and one of my followers saw my Tweet and decided then to re-Tweet it for their followers. This in turn was re-Tweeted again by further users. In total it was posted nine times resulting in 50 additional downloads inside an hour. This has led to me gaining new followers and our magazine gaining a wider readership.

The message is clear – there are people out there who are interested in what we are saying in the LINX magazine but if they don’t know about it, they can’t do anything about that information. If they are given the choice they can at least decide how to react to it.

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On a forum I frequent a Manchester United fan was claiming that recent signing, Michael Owen, was not good enough to play for them. It’s true he has only played 69 times in four years at Newcastle and seems to pick up a long-term injury just by scratching his nose but he’s still a proven goalscorer. His 30 goals in those four years still represnts a near one-in-two return.

Not bad, despite the age of that clips collection. I certainly think he’s worth the risk if he’s supported by a successful team and get a run in the side.

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Posted by: crustynomad | June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson and Arthritic Moonwalking

So it was true. Michael Jackson dies and no-one can quite believe it. Few will be surprised that he didn’t complete a full innings however but I don’t think there would be many that expected that this would be the moment that he would meet his maker…whoever that might be.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting about Mr Jackson and his 50 date residency at the O2 Arena and we were all agreed that we couldn’t see him completing all the dates – that would be hard enough for a young man let alone someone walking around with hardly any body part he started out with.

It’s testement to his back catalogue and reputation as a performer that he could sell out so many shows, and I hear there were options for more, but his fragile physical and mental state would make that number of dates too much to take surely. I could be doing him a disservice but as he didn’t even make the first concert it would be hard argue otherwise.

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Posted by: crustynomad | May 31, 2009

Long overdue update

Hello everyone.

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this site but there’s been a lot going on in my life recently most notably the death of my mother at the beginning of May. She’d been in three different hospitals most notably Papworth having been taken ill on Mothers’ Day and then having a heart attack a couple of days later.

Mum had had arthritis for around 45 years so she was in relatively poor health anyway but she managed to pull through and gradually fought her way back to some sense of normality. Personally I was even thinking that she was becoming well enough to come home but a second heart attack proved too much for her.

There’s a lot more I could say about the last two months both personally and professionally but I think too much time has passed. I was pleased at how this site had developed but it’s been on hold for too long so I want to get things moving again so look out for news, views and information in the coming days.

Posted by: crustynomad | April 15, 2009

Define Success

Earlier today I posted a couple of questions on a forum on the topics of sibling rivalry and the definition of success. As both overlapped in interesting ways I wanted to compile a few of the thoughts down as a way garnering further opinion. Basically I want you to define in a few words what you think success is and what it means to you personally.

Some people may attach the word success only with money or power. Others may define it as living in a free country or being able to sleep in till lunch time. Here are some of the responses received so far:

  • I’m not bothered by status and money. I like looking after others and having others to look after me. If I had that all my life and felt relatively happy, I’d feel my life was a success.
  • I think success is achieving your personal aims. I’ve achieved none of mine.
  • Success: an event that accomplishes its intended purpose. So relating to human terms, surely it’s to procreate… leave something behind once we’re gone.
  • For myself, leaving this world, and being remembered would be a great sucess. Not sure how I will be well known… but hopefully I will.
  • Success is the satisfaction of a job done well done.
  • If you’re enjoying life and so are your family who cares? I’m not very succesful at most things I do, but I enjoy life that’s good enough for me. Some people get lucky, some are smarter it’s not about what you have it’s about how much you appreciate it.

One person went into a little more detail on their thoughts and I felt this was a pretty good summing up of a subject of which there is no definitive answer. What is right for one person is plainly not right for another. Also, success has no end point because there always another level to aspire too.

It’s not that easy. You need to dig deep within yourself and question your values. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What different things are important to you? Success has multiple pinnacles and not one ultimate peak. One success builds on another. Setbacks and mistakes also help to build success. At different periods of your life, success is defined differently.

Now it’s your turn. Use the comment box below to add your thoughts on the subject and tell us what success means to you. Remember there are no right or wrong answers but whatever yousay will a valued contribution to the discussion.

http://alphainventions.com/

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